It’s no secret that Christmas is the most expensive holiday of the year. Trust me, I get it! Not only are the gifts crazy expensive, but everything else is too! I’m talking about the Christmas cards, pictures with Santa, holiday parties, and everything else on top of the gifts. Now don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas dearly! But for many years the expenses that came with Christmas sucked the joy out of the holiday. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and my bank account was always empty. Have you been there too? Surely I’m not alone!
To be honest, I thought that this was just the way Christmas always had to be. I never knew that it could be different. I figured that everyone around the world was just always poor and stressed during this time. But thankfully, that’s not how it has to be! Can you believe it? It is 100% possible to spend less this Christmas and NOT go into debt! Yes, I said it! And I’ve walked the walk, too! With a little bit of planning and preparation, you too can shed the financial stress that this season brings. And all that’s left is the magic and beauty of Christmas!
So here you have it! Ten ways to spend less this Christmas and NOT go into debt! Even if you just put half of these practices in place, you’ll be amazed at how much less you’ll spend this holiday season.
1. Plan ahead.
Thankfully, Christmas is on the same day each year. There are no surprises when it will show up. You know it’s coming, so go ahead and plan ahead for it! This means deciding who you want to buy gifts for, and how much you want to spend on each person. Set a limit and stick to what you said. Better yet, set a limit and try to spend under that budgeted amount! If possible, start saving money for Christmas months before December. If planning is your superpower then start saving for Christmas in January! Saving just a little bit each month will take a lot of the stress and burden off you financially during the holidays.
2. Cut out extra spending that is not holiday related.
I get it. Not everyone saves for Christmas all year long. That’s totally okay. And if you’re already in the holiday season then it’s a little hard to go back in time and save money. To help combat the extra spending that the holidays bring, consider cutting out spending that is not holiday related. Try cutting down your restaurants budget or your groceries budget. Take a look at your cell phone data plan and see if you can drop down your phone plan. Or finally cut cable once and for all. The point is to sacrifice in other areas of your life so that you can enjoy the holidays without going into debt. Because the worst thing is waking up the day after Christmas with massive credit card debt and buyer’s remorse. So say goodbye to your weekly coffee runs or cut back on your personal spending so you can pay for the holiday extras!
3. Cut back or skip out on Christmas cards.
Are Christmas cards cute and fun to receive? Absolutely! Are they necessary? Not at all! Now I love a good Christmas card (they are seriously so fun to receive), but you’ll live if you skip the cards this year. If you’re adamant against it, then order only 25 from an inexpensive place like CVS or Walgreens and only send them out to close family. This is an easy area to cut back on. In fact, you can probably buy a gift or two with the money that you save from spending on cards!
4. Choose less expensive traditions.
I absolutely love the Christmas traditions that our family has started! Thankfully, I knew early on that I wanted our traditions to be inexpensive. We don’t spend a ton of money on entertainment or grand activities. Instead, our family’s traditions include baking cookies, watching The Snowman on repeat, and driving around to see Christmas lights. When I was growing up my friends and I would go caroling and pass out candy canes. The point is to do something that you’ll look back on years from now and smile about.
5. Stay out of the stores.
If you’re anything like me, then you find shopping fun. I love walking through the stores (especially during the sales) to see all that I can buy. But spending a lot of extra time shopping is a slippery slope, my friend. And that includes online shopping as well! An easy way to spend less this season is to just stay out of the stores. Yes, that means you don’t go into Target. It means you stay off Amazon and you don’t click the Facebook Ads for cute clothes. If you stay away from these temptations, you won’t spend the extra money!
6. Enjoy free and local events.
Attending free events goes hand in hand with choosing less expensive traditions. Most towns and cities have a free holiday festival where you can enjoy a parade, family-friendly games, and pictures with Santa…all for free! We’ve even taken our kids to the local fire station for pancakes with Santa which was extremely inexpensive. And don’t forget about high school or local college performances for holiday concerts and plays!
7. Start early!
If you’ve ever waited until the last minute to make a dinner for a potluck or family meal, then you know the stress that comes from procrastination. In my case, I’ll end up overpaying for a dish that I pick up from a store. The same is true for Christmas shopping! If you wait until the last minute to buy your gifts, you’ll be in a rush, stressed, and will grab things to throw into the cart. Instead, start early (like NOW) and buy gifts here and there. Then cross that person off your list! Not only will buying gifts early save you money, but it will also save your sanity.
8. Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange.
If you have a large family or group of friends that you exchange gifts with, then consider organizing a Secret Santa exchange instead. Instead of buying for ten people, you’ll only have to buy for one. Another option is to still give gifts to all the kids and organize a gift exchange with just the adults. In fact, I bet there are other people who would appreciate that you organized a gift exchange! Secret Santa exchanges are fun, light on your budget, and show people that you appreciate them.
9. DIY when you can.
You don’t have to purchase every gift that you give people. Instead of buying something for everyone, DIY a fun gift when you can. For instance, make bath salts or cookies for teachers, neighbors, and friends. If you’re talented at hand lettering, then create simple signs for your family to hang in their home. Not only is this a personal touch, but it’s something that can last year round!
10. Remember what it’s all about.
Let’s be honest. In the midst of the busy Christmas season, it’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about. So when you start to get stressed, and you feel the need to overspend, come back to the true meaning of Christmas. Because that, my friend, will guide you through this season with a happy heart and sanity. It’s not about the gifts. It’s not about the stuff. Christmas is about something MUCH bigger than that!
So there you have it! Ten ways to spend less this Christmas and not go into debt. Give yourself permission to make changes this holiday season so you can wake up on December 26th without the extra debt and guilt. I promise you won’t regret it!
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